But what does ‘Mother Tongue’ mean? Simply stated, a child’s Mother Tongue is primarily the language spoken at home, although it does not need to be the language spoken by the mother. It is usually the language that a child has heard since birth; it is the language that has soothed and comforted them, and it is the language that has shaped their emotions and thoughts. Why is it so important that children have the opportunity to speak their own language, considering parents have chosen our school to improve their child’s English language skills?
According to Jim Cummins, a language and literacy researcher at the University of Toronto, research has clearly shown that mother tongue has a very important role in children’s overall development. As students are provided an opportunity to develop their skills in two, or even three languages, they are given multiple avenues of communicating their emotions and thoughts. As a result, students become more flexible in the way they process their ideas and articulate their thinking.
Research also supports the idea that the stronger the children’s mother tongue, the easier it is for them to learn new languages. If children have a firm understanding of their native language, they develop better literacy skills in other languages that they learn. Allowing students to transfer their understanding of language structures means that skills and concepts acquired in the learner’s home language don’t need to be re-taught when they are applicable to a second language. As multilingualism becomes an increasingly valued skill in our global economy, this advantage cannot be overstated.